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The New Leadership Is Local

March 16th, 2018 by Elaine Clisham

Redevelopment Forum keynote speaker Bruce Katz on why cities and metro regions are best positioned to lead in a 21st-century economy

Bruce Katz

Why are cities and local regions best positioned to lead in the 21st century? According to Bruce Katz, the Brookings Institution’s first Centennial Scholar and the former director of its Metropolitan Policy Program, who delivered the 2018 Redevelopment Forum luncheon keynote address, these are dense ecosystems of diversity and innovation in a time when the market wants what he called “agglomeration, co-location, and concentration of assets.” They’re the vanguard of a new kind of participatory democracy — cross-sector, bottom-up, and inter-disciplinary, able to leverage distinctive assets to create jobs and opportunity.

This is a reversal, Katz says, of the governance model the United State built in the mid-20th century, which he described as “highly specialized, highly compartmentalized, and highly bureaucratic,” making it ill-equipped to deal with the complexity and multi-functionality of current challenges. Cities as networks, he said, are much better equipped, since they’re not compartmentalized — they can leverage public, private and institutional connections as needed. He calls this “the new localism,” also the title of his new book, co-authored by Jeremy Nowak and published by Brookings Institution Press. Read the rest of this entry »

Workshop Highlights the Benefits of Green Infrastructure to Developers

February 6th, 2018 by Moriah Kinberg

Attendees at the Jan. 18 green infrastructure workshop in Bayonne.

As communities across New Jersey are looking at their options for eliminating combined-sewer overflows (CSOs), working with private developers is going to be part of the discussion.

“We need to turn our cities into sponges,” said Louise Wilson, New Jersey Future’s green infrastructure manager, in her introduction to “The Benefits of Green Infrastructure,” a workshop for developers and design professionals that was held in Bayonne Jan. 18. Twenty-one municipalities, including Bayonne, are in the process of developing Long Term Control Plans that will reduce CSOs and localized flooding and improve water quality. Implementation could cost these towns in the millions of dollars. Green infrastructure (GI) is one of the alternatives municipalities are looking at as a way to eliminate CSOs by reducing and filtering the amount of stormwater going into the wastewater system. Bayonne is also experiencing a development boom at the same time that the city is coming up with its plan, so engaging developers now could help Bayonne tackle the challenge of transforming the city into a sponge. Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Brendan Byrne

January 5th, 2018 by New Jersey Future staff

It is with profound sadness that all of us at New Jersey Future note the passing of our friend and supporter, former Governor Brendan Byrne.

Governor Byrne exemplified the word “statesman.” He sought out and tackled large, transformative changes that he thought would benefit all residents of the state, and he worked unselfishly with members of both political parties to help implement those changes. Long after leaving office he remained active in public affairs, including a weekly stint as one half of the Byrne-Kean dialogues in the Sunday Star-Ledger, which presented, in true Brendan Byrne spirit, a cordial and bipartisan take on the events of the week. Read the rest of this entry »

Drinking Water Infrastructure Report Calls for Investment, Transparency

January 4th, 2018 by Chris Sturm

UPDATED to reflect the task force’s unanimous adoption of the report at its Jan. 8 meeting.

Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure recommends $400 million to upgrade state’s drinking water systems.

New Jersey Future applauds the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure for its report, adopted unanimously at a meeting Jan. 8,which provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for upgrading New Jersey’s deteriorating water systems, including how to generate the significant investment needed for the upgrade.

Among the recommendations:

  • Asset management, to be incentivized by matching grants from the state Environmental Infrastructure Financing Program for upgrade investments, which would be made to utilities with robust asset management programs in place;
  • Capacity-building for smaller utilities, to be provided via grants and technical assistance from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust;
  • Increased funding for replacement of lead pipes and mitigation of combined-sewer overflows;
  • More stringent requirements for accountability and transparency, including requiring standardized metrics to be reported.

The report recommends the issuance of $400 million in general-obligation bonds to help pay for upgrades to the state’s drinking water infrastructure.

The report reflects the extensive testimony gathered during its three public hearings from many water leaders, the majority of whom are, like New Jersey Future, members of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.

The task force was convened following the revelation that lead had been found in drinking water at a variety of schools across New Jersey. It was tasked with studying and making both short-term and long-term recommendations “concerning issues related to drinking water infrastructure in New Jersey,” according to the resolution that established it. Although many water systems are well managed, in too many communities century-old water pipelines are bursting and obsolete; unhealthy drinking water containing lead threatens our children’s brain development; and dysfunctional systems direct raw sewage, polluted runoff, or both mixed together into our local rivers and cause flooding of streets and basements.

Implementing the task force’s recommendations will benefit communities and utilities across New Jersey, and will be a significant catalyst in providing the necessary system upgrades to allow enhanced economic growth.

Read the full report

Bill Would Cap Sewerage Authorities’ Ability To Raise Funds for System Repairs

January 4th, 2018 by Chris Sturm

Source: Flickr user -luz-

A bill currently scheduled for a vote in the Assembly would restrict the ability of sewerage authorities to raise rates to cover the cost of system repairs and upgrades. The bill, A5339/S848, which the state Senate has already passed, would limit the rate increases that large regional sewerage authorities can impose to 2 percent per year. While many costs are exempted from inclusion in this rate-increase cap, the costs of repairs and upgrades are not. Read the rest of this entry »

New Jersey Shows Small Population Growth in Latest Census Estimate

December 20th, 2017 by Tim Evans

State’s population tops 9 million for the first time

Reports of New Jersey population loss have been greatly exaggerated.

New Census Bureau state population estimates are out, and they show New Jersey’s population increasing by 27,228 between 2016 and 2017, which represents a 0.30 percent increase. The nation’s population increased by 0.72 percent, so New Jersey grew by less than half the national rate.

Still, this is an improvement compared to recent years, in several ways. New Jersey’s 2015-2016 growth rate was only 0.21 percent (less than one-third of the national growth rate of 0.74 percent), and was an even smaller 0.19 percent between 2014 and 2015 (barely more than one-fourth of the national rate of 0.76 percent), so New Jersey is not lagging as far behind the national growth rate as it had been in the two most recent prior years.

New Jersey has also hit a milestone this year, with its population exceeding the 9 million mark for the first time (the official population estimate for July 1, 2017, stands at 9,005,644). New Jersey remains the 11th most populous state in the nation, a rank it has held since 2005, after Georgia and North Carolina both surpassed it.

This year, New Jersey’s growth rate, small as it may seem, is enough to rank it number 32 out of the 50 states, meaning there are 18 states that grew more slowly than New Jersey. Last year, New Jersey ranked 38th, so there were only 12 states that grew more slowly than New Jersey between 2015 and 2016. What’s more, eight states actually lost population between 2016 and 2017 — Wyoming (with the biggest loss, at -0.96 percent), West Virginia, Illinois, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Dakota — compared to only six states having lost population between 2015 and 2016, so New Jersey is managing to stay in positive territory even as losses become slightly more widespread. The other 10 states that lagged New Jersey between 2016 and 2017 but still posted positive growth rates are Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, New York ,Vermont, and Connecticut.

Looking at growth over the whole decade so far, New Jersey ranks 34th in 2010-2017 growth rate, at 2.43 percent, compared to 5.49 percent for the nation as a whole. Three states have lost population since 2010 — West Virginia, Vermont, and Illinois. New Jersey’s 2010-2017 growth rate puts it ahead of just about every other New England and Mid-Atlantic state — New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont have all grown more slowly than New Jersey since 2010, and New York’s rate is virtually identical to New Jersey’s. Among Northeastern states, only Massachusetts, Maryland, and Delaware have outpaced New Jersey so far this decade.

New Jersey ranked 37th among the states for growth between 2000 and 2010, so it is actually doing better so far this decade than last, in terms of how its growth compares to other states. But New Jersey should not count on staying ahead of most of the rest of the Northeast if it continues to lose its Millennial population.

As a side note, Pennsylvania has reclaimed the no. 5 spot, moving back ahead of Illinois, which passed Pennsylvania in 1998. Illinois has actually lost population that last couple of years, while Pennsylvania continues to gain very slowly.

New Report Outlines Coastal Resilience Strategies

December 13th, 2017 by David Kutner

Recommendations include steps communities and the state can take to protect against future storms and sea-level rise.

U.S. Air Force photo of Sandy damage to the Jersey Shore.

New Jersey Future has released a report outlining strategies coastal communities can take to respond to the impacts of rising seas and increased flooding. The report is a product of the Sustainable and Resilient Coastal Communities project, funded by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Office of Coastal and Land Use Planning. Read the rest of this entry »

How the Fourth Regional Plan Could Affect New Jersey

December 12th, 2017 by Kandyce Perry

A regional approach to planning ensures that the potential positive and negative impacts on a region are considered when local decisions are made. This lens helps to sustain the health of localities by examining larger and long-term impacts. For a state like New Jersey, regional planning comes in several forms, from multiple towns working together, to coastal resiliency planning and regional resource protection as seen in the Pinelands and Highlands, to interstate planning and cooperation. As a state nestled between two of the country’s largest cities (New York and Philadelphia) and in one of the largest world economies, regional planning offers an essential approach to long-term investment decision-making that can boost prosperity, sustainability, equity and health outcomes for the residents and businesses of the state. Read the rest of this entry »

Water Conference Urges Action From New Jersey’s New Administration

December 6th, 2017 by Emily Eckart

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka delivering opening remarks at the Jersey Water Works Conference.

New Jersey’s water infrastructure is failing, and the state must act now before the problem worsens. This theme echoed repeatedly at the third annual Jersey Water Works Conference on December 1, which attracted nearly 300 participants from a wide range of professions. Jersey Water Works, a collaborative organization of over 350 members, advocates for transforming New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure. The group recently conducted a survey that found protecting drinking water is the top environmental issue for New Jerseyans, rating twice as high in importance as cleaning up toxic spills or reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, when asked to select a top water priority for New Jersey’s governor and Legislature, at least three-quarters of New Jerseyans chose securing safe drinking water. As Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in his welcoming remarks, “Water is the most important resource we have.”

Many New Jersey residents value clean drinking water, but there is a lack of public awareness about how precarious the state’s aging infrastructure is. Problems like leaking pipes, combined sewer overflows, and lead in water are not as obvious as potholes. As Mike Elmendorf, president and chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of New York State said, “People don’t think about this stuff until it’s broken.”

Read the full recap of the conference over on the Jersey Water Works website.

Also at the conference, the collaborative released a white paper on the urgent need for investment in upgrading the state’s water infrastructure, and presented the inaugural New Jersey One Water Awards.

A Year One Clean Water Agenda for the New Governor

November 30th, 2017 by Chris Sturm

Representatives from 34 public-sector, private-sector and nonprofit organizations have together released a proposed Year One Clean Water Agenda for incoming Governor Phil Murphy, encouraging him to make investment in clean water a priority during the first year of his administration. Supporters include leaders in the utility, environmental, community development, agriculture, municipal, smart growth, industry, engineering, resilience, and planning sectors.

Among the recommendations in the Year One Clean Water Agenda:

  • Launch a high-profile “Clean Water” campaign to promote awareness and action among the public and elected and appointed officials on issues including lead contamination in drinking water, aging infrastructure, and combined sewer overflows.
  • By partnering with local officials, ensure effective combined sewer overflow plans are developed and implemented.
  • Help water utilities finance infrastructure upgrades to modernize aging water systems and ensure cost-effective operations and maintenance.
  • Update the state’s stormwater regulations to drive and reward nature-based green infrastructure techniques in development and redevelopment projects.
  • Get the lead out of drinking water in homes and schools. Publish a statewide assessment of lead in school drinking water that identifies the extent of the problem in each school district and associated needs for assistance.
  • Launch a public process to recommend statewide policies and programs to ensure water and sewer services are affordable to all ratepayers.
  • Enact legislation that permits the establishment of local and regional stormwater utilities and subsequent revenue generation to support infrastructure and management.

The agenda was crafted over a two-month period by representatives of the Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey, Ironbound Community Corporation, Natural Resources Defense Council, NY/NJ Baykeeper and New Jersey Future.

The full Year One Clean Water Agenda, including the list of signatories, is available here. The news release announcing the agenda is available here.

© New Jersey Future, 16 W. Lafayette St. • Trenton, NJ 08608 • Phone: 609-393-0008 • Fax: 609-360-8478

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